Something kind of weird happened in February 1994. The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr. and Lois & Clark: The New Adventures of Superman were on different networks and didn’t share production teams, although some of Brisco‘s staff, including this episode’s writer, John McNamara, would move over to L&C a few months later. Neither program was a hit. L&C ranked around the middle of the Nielsens and Brisco was usually around # 80 of 100 shows. And somehow, about two weeks apart, both programs threw a hail mary to try and get a few hundred thousand more teenage girl viewers and some press in the teen mags by introducing new young men in the cast in recurring roles. On ABC, Chris Demetral showed up toward the end of L&C‘s first year as a street kid named Jack who gets a job at the Daily Planet, and on Fox, Jeff Phillips was introduced as a headstrong wannabe gunslinger called Whip Morgan. I wonder whether this happened on any other shows that year.
The other new character introduced in “Hard Rock” is Sheriff Aaron Viva, who is Elvis Presley, basically, but he only shows up in one other story. Viva is played by Gary Hudson, who moves and points in pure caricature, but he delivers all the dialogue completely straight. The writers make sure that he’s quoting Elvis lyrics whenever the narrative suggests them, and I love the way Hudson never underlines them. I mean, when villains are blasting at you from both sides, of course you’d say something like “We’re caught in a trap, I can’t walk out!” On the other hand, the thankyaverramuuuuches and the like get old pretty quickly. I’m reasonably confident Marie won’t be pleased to read this post to learn that either character will be back again.
Ah, but the kid enjoyed this one. It had a big explosion and Lord Bowler wrestled a bear. And the heroes invent the drive-in window, hamburgers, and sunglasses. What’s not to like?